Gitana Eighty and Loïck Peyron safely in port
Symbolically it has taken until the last day of the year for Loïck Peyron to reach terra firma… Three weeks after Gitana Eighty's dismasting in the Indian Ocean, the solo sailor has made it to Perth on the SW coast of Australia, on the morning of Wednesday 31st December (local time). The arrival is reminiscent of a deliverance as it brings to an end a long delivery of over 2,800 miles, made possible by the installation of a jury rig.

A closely watched arrival
Accompanied by Dominique Wavre and some members of Mike Golding's shore crew, Olivier Wroczynski left the port at around 0700 hrs this morning, local time (2300 hrs GMT), to link up with Loïck Peyron who was just a stone's throw from the coast at that stage. Half an hour later, Gitana Eighty was in sight. Soon after that ‘Zolive' (Olivier) hauled himself onto the monohull to help the solo sailor with the manœuvres required to enter port. At 0845 hrs (0045 GMT), in an overpowering heat – the thermometer already bordering on 30°C that early in the morning – the monohull in the colours of the LCF Rothschild Group came alongside in the commercial port of Fremantle. From the minute they tied up and for three hours after that, Loïck Peyron and Olivier Wroczynski were subject to various searches by the Australian administration. The first of these, which was also the longest, is referred to as the ‘quarantine' and aims to track down any suspect ‘contaminated' food so as it doesn't come into the country. For this, two people from the dedicated department were the first to climb aboard the vessel to carry out a thorough inspection, going through and emptying everything carefully and meticulously. After this the Customs Officials took over with various and varied administrative forms.

With that settled, Loïck Peyron was able to join up with Dominique Wavre and Mike Golding, they too suffering damage and ‘seeking refuge' in Perth. It was an opportunity for the three sailors to share their respective feelings and discuss the terms of the repatriation of their respective boats. Indeed, mid-January, Gitana Eighty, Temenos and Ecover will be loaded onto the same cargo ship bound for Europe. This tricky operation, which initially consists of detaching the keel and then positioning the hull onto a cradle manufactured for the purpose of placing it on the cargo ship, will require the presence of the shore crew until the date the cargo leaves port. As such Olivier Wroczynski will be joined in the next few days by two other technicians from Gitana Team.

Leaving Gitana Eighty in the safe hands of Zolive, the sailor from La Baule very quickly headed for Perth airport – just four hours after arriving on Australian soil – in order to get back to France and his nearest and dearest. As a result, it's not onshore but in the air that Loïck Peyron will see in the new year…
As such, though 10th December marked the premature end of his race, today, 31st December brings this 2008-2009 edition of the Vendée Globe to a close for this particular team. Indeed, with his arrival in the port of Fremantle, a page has been turned for the skipper of Gitana Eighty. However, to date, the sailor hasn't yet come to any conclusions about what happened three weeks ago to cause the mast of the monohull equipped by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild to give way.

Gitana Team wishes you a very Happy New Year 2009!

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